Startup competitions seeking cleantech companies

Steven Loeb · April 19, 2018 · Short URL:

They include Climate Launchpad, Cleantech University Prize and 76West Clean Energy Competition

If you're a startup seeking opportunities to get funded, educated or connected, startup competitions are a great resource.

Vator has been holding its own competitions, using VatorX, to find and filter for the best startups. We've had some very successful and notable winners in the past that have gone on to raise big funding rounds including Thumbtack, DogVacay, Pokitdok, Grovo, Udemy and Apartment List, to name a few.

Anyone can list their program as VatorX is one of the most comprehensive listing guides to startup competitions, challenges, accelerators and programs. Click here to list your program!

As part of our weekly series, we'll look at top competitions with big cash prizes, as well as competitions that have teed up the most promising startups, to finding popular startup competitions you need to know about. 

Here are some of the startup competitions that are focused on cleantech companies:


Description: "The Clean Tech Competition is a unique, worldwide research and design challenge for pre-college youth. The program encourages scientific understanding of real-world issues and the integration of environmentally responsible energy sources. Each year, the Clean Tech Competition addresses an issue that is grounded in core technological competency areas and focuses on the next great engineering challenges. The competition is designed to foster a deeper understanding of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) related concepts, recognize outstanding talent, and prepare the next generation of globally competitive innovators."

Prize: Not specified

Previous winners: SuperSilk, Eco-Breathe


ClimateLaunchpad - Europe's largest cleantech business idea competition, powered by Climate-KIC

Description: "Our competition is your ticket to global success. Provided you have a green business idea and have what it takes to become an entrepreneur.

Your idea can be an innovation in renewable energy, a sustainable transition in the food chain, a mind shift in urban mobility or any other way to tackle climate change."

Prize: The Top-10 competitors in the Grand Final will get direct access to the Climate-KIC Accelerator, the renowned business school where great ideas grow into great businesses.

On top of that there is also prize money. The overall winner of the Grand Final receives €10,000, the runner up gets €5,000 and the idea that comes in third place wins €2,500.

Previous winners: Bio Alkanol Gel, MeduSoil, Vienna Textile Lab

  National Cleantech UP

Description: "Cleantech University Prize (Cleantech UP) business plan competitions provide aspiring student entrepreneurs with the mentorship, business development skills and training, and investor feedback they need to turn their clean energy ideas into businesses offering real-world solutions."


  • Winter through Spring semester: Training leading up to each regional competition final, where teams compete for $50,000 in prizes
  • June: National Competition held. Top three teams from each regional competition receive additional training and compete for $100,000 in prizes.

Previous winners: Heila Technologies, Iron Goat, Amper, Solstice Energy Solutions, Noble Thermodynamics, Flux Technology


Nordic Cleantech Open

Description: "Nordic Cleantech Open is a start-up competition for cleantech entrepreneurs from the Nordic and Baltic countries. The competition aims to identify the 25 best, innovative seed stage cleantech start-ups in the Nordic and Baltic regions and highlight them to our expert jury of international investors and industrial companies.  The process facilitates building relations between start-ups and the jury as well as helps to accelerate the cleantech companies into the global market."

Prize: Not specified

Previous winners: EnergyNest, SoilScout, ifoodbag



Description: "76West is an unparalleled competition focused on growing entrepreneurs and attracting resources from the U.S. and around the world to build clean energy businesses and jobs in New York State’s Southern Tier region."

Prize: Each year for four years, 76West will award $2.5 million in prize money to six finalists as follows: one grand prize of $1 million, one $500,000 prize, and four $250,000 awards, all payable in increments based on specific milestone accomplishments.

Previous winners: Skyven Technologies, SunTegra, Biological Energy, EthosGen, SolarKal, Visolis 


Description: "FLOW's DOE Cleantech UP business plan competition is for university students and recent graduates focused on cleantech and sustainability. In addition to cleantech and clean energy, FLOW supports a broad spectrum of sustainability-related innovations including those related to natural resource management and agricultural technologies.


  • $100,000+ in cash prizes
  • Application Fast Track for $200,000 Rocket Fund for building prototypes
  • New: DoD track for military technologies with $35,000 national prize

Previous winners: Vescence, South 8 Technologie, Teratonix, XStream Trucking, Akabotics, SkyCool System, Element16 Technologies

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